Expanded EU Sanctions Target Putin’s Closest Aides

Written by | Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

The European Union announced yesterday (April 28) that it had decided to expand the sanction blacklist by additional 15 names, targeting members of Russian and Ukrainian elites. The newly-sanctioned individuals include both Russians and Ukrainians very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin who have – from the EU’s perspective – significantly contributed to the current situation in Ukraine. According to the official statement, the 15 people have been “charged” with actions undermining Ukraine’s independence, integrity, and sovereignty. The EU’s list includes Gen Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, and Lt Gen Igor Sergun, identified as the head of the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU. On the list is also Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Kozak, and pro-Russian separatist leaders in Crimea and in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Lugansk and Donetsk. These individuals will be targeted with travel bans and asset freezing in the European Union. In addition to the 15 “sanctionees”, another 22 Ukrainians have had their assets frozen due to embezzlement and fraud under Ukraine’s ex-President Yanukovych.
The decision of sanction expansion was taken at a meeting of the entire EU membership represented by ambassadors to the EU. The role of the meeting was to agree on the next steps following the escalation of the crisis in the Crimean peninsula since Moscow does not seem to “repent”. The current measures, which include the new blacklist, fall short of the full-scale economic action that is preferred by the United States, as Washington announced separately on Monday. The US is to take an action against additional seven Russian officials and 17 companies with strong ties to President Putin. All these actions are meant to punish and condemn the situation in Ukraine, where Russian forces carry on seizing government buildings. The White House commented that it was considering curbing some hi-tech exports to Russia that could be used for military purposes.
Whereas the United States is tightening up its sanctioning policy step by step, the EU is still thwarting to move to a “Phase 3” of more impactful sanctions due to the extensive economic relations between Russia and EU28. As Brussels announced on Monday as well, unless there is additional escalation from the Russian side, the EU might consider “Phase 3” – but for the time being, Phase 2 measures are deemed appropriate.

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